Friday, 31 January 2014

Members Show @ Generator Projects 31.01.14 - pictures

To the Generator this evening for their annual Members Show. I took a few photos and here they are:

The name of the show is Members Show

Becca Clark - Generator committee portraits

The Dundee art massive

Cully McCulloch - Lazy mind, lazy (he)art

Ben Robinson - HRH Kate, Inverted

Lily Morris - Untitled

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Bought a few items:

Marie Calloway  - what purpose did i serve in your life (Tyrant Books), £5.00

Visonia et Dopplereffekt ‎– Die Reisen 12" (Last Known Trajectory), £7.99

The Muzic Box - A Portrait Of The Party At The Dawn Of House (1982-1987) 12" (Rush Hour Recordings), £9.99

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Yuck 'n Yum - Zine Idol deadline is 1st of February 2014‏

Dear Yuck 'n Yummers,

Hello and welcome to 2014, here at YNY HQ we are very excited about the new direction we will be taking in the coming year and will announce future projects in due course.  In the meantime we'd thought we'd remind you about our Zine Idol opportunity - deadline 1st of February 2014.

To celebrate new beginnings we are offering the support, guidance, and £500 of seed money to bring your own self-published zine venture to fruition. 
We are asking for groups of at least three or more people to write a proposal of how you envisage your zine. Yuck ’n Yum was a quarterly, black and white, 25 page, A5 zine with no theme – but you could pitch anything: a monthly two-page zine with a different theme each month, a full colour artists annual, or a zine full of exhibition reviews. Its entirely up to you, but we are particuarly interested in fresh, innovative ideas.
Interested? For full details of the project and our terms and conditions please go to however here is a summary of what we need from you by the 1st of February 2014.
  • A proposal for your zine, no more than one side of A4. Be sure to mention what form you envisage the zine would take. What is it called? How you would hope to print it? How many pages you would expect it to be? Give us an idea about the tone and feel. How are you producing the content? Is the team producing it or are you asking for contributions? Is it open-submission, or are you inviting specific contributors? Please also include a rough budget - Yuck ’n Yum are offering £500 seed money towards the project.
  • A one page CV for each of your team. Yuck ’n Yum are putting our name to this so we need to be satisfied your team can deliver. What previous experience have you had, what transferable skills have you developed?
  • Up to 6 images giving examples of previous work.
  • Links to online material including blogs and video links. 
Please send your application  submissions@yucknyum.comclearly labelled "Zine Idol", by 1st of February 2014.

This project is made possible by our funders the Hannah Maclure Centre.
ALSO thanks again to everyone who came to our last zine launch in December, you can view some of the pictures we took from the night here.

Love from the Yuck 'n Yum team

Monday, 27 January 2014

ART101 @ Art in Scotland TV

I talk ART101, Death Paints Red Daubings and Yuck 'n Yum for Art in Scotland TV:

Art 101:
Written and directed by Ben Robinson
Performed by Morgan Cahn
Editing and FX by Andrew Maclean


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Sue de Beer and Laura Parnes - Heidi 2

Sue de Beer (born September 8, 1973 in Tarrytown, New York) is a contemporary artist who lives and works in New York, New York.

Laura Parnes is an artist whose work engages strategies of narrative film and video art to blur the lines between storytelling conventions and experimentation. Parnes combines elements such as continuity and dialogue with highly stylized sets and performances to present non-linear narratives as installations that utilize the architectural space of a gallery or museum. By deploying cinematic citation as an element of site-specific installation, the staging of her own productions reverberates in an exhibition setting, often requiring the audience to physically enter a scripted environment or re-creation of the production set. Parnes’ installations operate at a symbolic and sculptural level, while maintaining a narrative coherence that points to a future in which reality is tightly nested in layers of art, popular culture, and experience.

Heidi 2, produced in collaboration with Sue de Beer, is a feminist revision of Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy's 1992 video, Heidi. This intentionally low-end production illustrates the way B-movie aesthetics can be employed ironically to comment on cultural depravity. This mother/daughter story reclaims patriarchal abjection through reinterpretation. The work is introduced through a disturbingly humorous birth scene. From there, the pair's daily life gradually moves from bulimic contests and sexual play to technologized degradation. This relationship implodes in the final scene when the daughter, Heidi 2, surgically implants a TV set into her own abdomen with her mother's help. The TV contains a live feed of herself. Aesthetically, the cold Cronenberg-esque silences distill the horror of transmitted self-objectification particular to the adolescent female.  
Laura Parnes

Cathy Lebowitz: So Josefina, what happened first in the film?

Josefina Ayerza: Well, what happened first was this birth. It was a big thing that happened. In the way it was presented. This enormous vagina… very impressive. And also in the sense that this vagina was so active in itself… so as to push this thing out of itself. And you could see this activity there under your eyes. I liked the way they set up the expectation… the time for something to appear… till the head pops out. Of course I could see the rejection in the faces of other people, trying to run away.

C: Because when the baby comes out, it's not a pretty baby.

J: I was amazed to see this. I never saw my babies by the way, because at this very instance there is no mirror in front of you when you have a baby. You're just pushing. You don't see it in a mirror, that's the only way to really see that moment. You can only see it in somebody else. In the movie, it's a horrible thing that comes out, I would say.

C: Like an alien.

J: Like an animal. It looked like a piggy I would say this one.

C: So you think this vagina is Heidi's and she is having a baby Heidi?

J: I was thinking is this a real thing? Is it a real vagina, and is it a real photograph of a birth? Since I never saw a birth… I think it is not true that it is so tremendous…

C: Wasn't the vagina moving or talking? I don't remember. There were some words.

J: The vagina I don't think was talking. There was a voice-over with words spoken. But it was active, very active. Also I was impressed by the color, it was white what came out of there.

C: The baby, you mean?

J: The baby is inside of placenta. And you could see this. 

In their 1992 video Heidi, artists Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley turned the classic tale of a young girl’s coming of age into a three-ring circus of family dysfunction. In this orgy of obsessive-compulsive behavior interspersed with lofty Socratic dialogues on the relationship of nature and culture, Grandpa, a sadistic paternal figure, teaches Heidi and her brother Peter what they need to know to grow and thrive in the adult world; how to read, how to get beaten up, how to push sausages out of your ass. Now New York-based artists Laura Parnes and Sue de Beer have given the story a media-saturated spin in a two-channel video installation titled "Heidi 2" As the script notes the new production “is not a critique or on homage but a sequel, and follows the roles of any good sequel: more blood, additional celebrities, and more special effects”.

The video begins with a disgusting birth scene suggesting a cross between Cindy Sherman’s sex toy photos and the monster births in Larry Cohen’s "It’s Alive" films. The character of Heidi later appears as both mother and daughter, played by the two artists in rubber Charlie Brown and Pigpen masks, Grandpa is reduced to a bit player and Leonardo de Caprio (an actor in a cardboard mask) fulfills the celebrity quota. Mocking parenting in the age of rampant bulimia and art school instruction in the age of Abjection 101, Heidi 1 shows Heidi 2 how to projectile vomit (“Like this?” daughter asks—big splash—”No, that’s too self-conscious” mom replies) and at the climax of the tape, how to “self-operate” In this disturbingly affectless scene (combining radical weight-reduction surgery with Teletubbies-style auto-surveillance) Heidi 2’s stomach is cut out, tossed into a bucket, and replaced with a TV monitor carrying her image in a continuous live feed.

To those familiar with the artists work, Heidi 2 is an intriguing marriage of sensibilities. Parnes’ video "No Is Yes". 1998, limns a more straightforward (but equally depraved) narrative in which two teenage girls murder a misogynist punk rocker in a "Thelma and Louise"-style face-off, give him a "Clueless"-style makeover (stripping him nude, tying him up, adorning him with knife inflicted scratch-iti), and then ask their mentor, a dominatrix named Sarah, for "Pulp Fiction"- style help in disposing of the body. (“Who do you think I am, Harvey Keitel?” Sarah asks). Enlivened by quick editing and MTV-style inserts, "No ls Yes" is a teen rebellion film reinterpreted far a gallery context and its bleak message—that rebellion in a world of commodified nihilism is meaningless—echoes through­out "Heidi 2".

De Beer, in her own solo work, has a flair for catchy, surrealistic images, resembling the shock iconography of fashion and advertising (e.g. Diesel’s recent “dead teenagers” campaign) but with a creepy, personal vibe. Through low-budget f/x, including digitally altered videos and C-prints, she has depicted herself as a pair of clones in a languid make-out session, an ax-murder victim split from skull to sternum, and an impossibly long-legged Frankenwaif straining to touch the floor with her fingertips. Although arrived at collaboratively with Pames, Heidi 2’s vomiting scene—with its doppelganger composition and obvious "Exorcist" reference—recalls de Beer’s characteristic union of horror-movie scenes and choreographed body art pathologies.

This immersion in media and popular culture sets Parnes and de Beer apart from an older generation of performance artists (McCarthy, Schneeman, Nitsch), who seek to heal a split between a “repressed, cultural” self and an “authentic, natural” self through ritualistic acts of transgression (fecal smearing, orgiastic sex, and so on). In de Beer’s and Parnes’ view, no split exists because everything is mediated: the most extreme acts can be found on tape at the corner video store and “real” experience is suspect. Rejecting the superior vantage point of the artist/shaman, the artists use pop culture tropes without apology; expressing the most “primal” events—childbirth, orgasm, incestuous rape— in the idiom of sitcoms, video games, and splatter films.
Tom Moody

Heidi 2 was billed as a sequel to Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy’s Heidi (1992). It is not uncommon for a sequel to be handed over to a new director, often a hack who takes the original’s most salient features and then exaggerates them. This is especially the case in the horror and sci-fi genres, in which the sequel promises more abundant gore, updated technology and cameo appearances by current or fading celebrities. De Beer and Parnes make overt references to this paradigm. Aside from the pressures of re-telling a familiar story and following in the footsteps of a recent film, they confront the anxiety of influence that is particularly pronounced in the art world - it could be said that Kelley and McCarthy are contemporary art’s equivalent to film directors such as Wes Craven or David Cronenberg.

In Kelley and McCarthy’s Heidi, Grandfather is a raging, abusive character who controls the household and trains Heidi in the lessons of life. The dull-witted shepherd boy, Peter, is the frequent object of Grandfather’s sadism. Perhaps concerned about an oedipal take-over of the family, Grandfather keeps him helpless and mute. De Beer and Parnes turn the tables and portray the old man as a couch potato who seeks male companionship from Peter. Despite one scene in which Grandfather (played by Guy Richards Smit) spanks Heidi - launching her into a flight of fantasy - his role has been reduced to that of a struggling has-been. Are Kelley and McCarthy meant to be equated with Grandfather? If so, Heidi 2 is more than a sequel: it takes on the quality of a revisionist history. In this extension of the Spyri narrative, Heidi 2 (performed by De Beer) gets her education from her mother, Heidi 1 (performed by Parnes), who teaches her to perform an auto-abortion, a scene which satisfies the bloody requirements of the sequel. Yet by preventing the birth of what might have turned out to be Heidi 3, De Beer and Parnes seem to pre-empt the possibility of a trilogy.

De Beer and Parnes’ commentary on the film industry targets movies like Disney’s Heidi (1993), which starred Jason Robards as Grandfather and Jane Seymour as the nanny. It takes good actors to enliven out-dated roles and so de Beer and Parnes cast Eric Heist as Leonardo Di Caprio (Heist wears a Leo mask), who in turn plays the part of Peter. The shepherd is now Heidi’s love interest and apparent father of the aborted child. Having removed the threat of an offspring, Heidi 2 and her mother fill the void in her belly with a television monitor - just like the Teletubbies. Unlike the Heidi of the novel, who rejects big-city life in favour of a healthy rural existence, Heidi 2 wholeheartedly embraces the trappings of culture.

De Beer and Parnes bring the saga further up to date through a Hollywood-style merchandising campaign. Accompanying the movie are blood-red posters and grotesque knee-high dolls and accessories that come in vacuum-packed containers. It’s an approach which has a parallel in the art world, since it is now common practice for artists working in film and video to produce multiples and sell photographs in order to fund their large-scale projects (Matthew Barney is the undisputed king of this strategy). By ‘branding’ their product, the artists seem to be attempting to usurp the terrain formerly occupied by Kelley and McCarthy. Firmly ensconced in the gallery and art school systems, these established artists have come to represent for De Beer and Parnes the repressive authority figures who have to learn to accept the presence of youthful exuberance - just as Grandfather learned to love Heidi.
Gregory Williams

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Shiver of the Vampires

Le Frisson des Vampires (English title: The Shiver of the Vampires) is a 1971 film directed by Jean Rollin. It is his third vampire movie. 

Jean Rollin's early films are an acquired taste with their accent on mood and atmosphere over linear plot structure. This film is the best of his early output, right up there with LES RAISINS DE LA MORT. It's got a prog-rock music score, long-haired hippie vampires, old cemeteries and castles lit in bright shades of red, blue and green. Rollin's first feature was like a pretentious student film. His second feature added a little science fiction to the vampire mythos. But it's here that all the ingredients came together in just the right way. I still find myself falling asleep during the nonsensical dialog scenes or long takes but am always riveted back to the screen by the next striking scene to come.
The films of Jean Rollin come with a reputation/warning: their mix of artistry and exploitation isn’t for everyone, and they’re all variations on the same idea. The director’s formula is thick Gothic atmosphere, beautiful visuals, mild surrealism, nude female vampires, and an indifference to rational plotting.  For decades, Rollins’ slow-paced, arty, irrational musings on the vampire myth have frustrated horror fans looking for old-fashioned bloodletting, but they are subtly strange artifacts that reflect the unique preoccupations of their creator. These fetishistic documents are ultimately of more interest to fans of neo-surrealism than of horror.
G Smalley

“The Shiver of the Vampires” (is) a cascade of delirious imagery tied to a story line so convoluted that even Rollin seems to lose track of it. A pair of newlyweds (still wearing their wedding clothes) arrive at the crumbling château owned by the bride’s eccentric cousins, a pair of vampire hunters who have themselves become vampires. Rollin’s compulsive doubling moves into tripling as the bloodsucker in residence, Isolde (played by an actress with a single name, Dominique) goes after both the bride, Ise (Sandra Julien) and a local woman, Isabelle (Nicole Nancel), who was involved in a ménage à trois with the two undead cousins.

The doddering symmetry of the plotline finds its visual equivalent in a couple of laboriously executed 360-degree pans — showy, difficult shots that represent one of Rollin’s rare attempts to be cinematic. In the context of his usual offhanded compositions and wayward framing, the formal self-consciousness of these circular shots is startling — as if Jean-Luc Godard had suddenly taken over an episode of the “Real Housewives” franchise. 

Moments like these — and there are a few others scattered through Rollin’s oeuvre — remind us of the close kinship of outsider art and the avant-garde. It is, after all, difficult to distinguish between rules broken out of innocence and rules broken with study and deliberation. With its outsize female characters struggling obscurely on a magical plane, “The Shiver of the Vampires” made me think more than once of Jacques Rivette’s mid-’70s series of feminist fantasy films: “Céline and Julie Go Boating,” “Noroît,” “Duelle.” (The impression is reinforced by the presence of Michel Delahaye and Jacques Robiolles as the vampire cousins. Both made regular appearance in New Wave films, and Delahaye contributed as a critic to the film journal Cahiers du Cinéma.)

With slightly higher budgets, a little more formal assurance and a much better press agent, Jean Rollin might have taken his place in the pantheon of French cinéastes. But then we would not have had these odd, awkward, strangely touching films, and I think I would miss them.
Dave Kehr

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Comme des Garçons 2

Comme des Garçons, written in Japanese as コム・デ・ギャルソン (Komu de Gyaruson), is French for "Like Boys", and is a Japanese fashion label headed by Rei Kawakubo, who owns the company with her husband Adrian Joffe.

Comme des Garçons also produces a line of agendered fragrances, most of which are unconventional in the world of perfume, in the same spirit as the label's garments.

Comme des Garçons 2 plays with complements and contrasts... with reflection and opacity... with mirrors and brilliance... with light and shadow... with earth and the energy of the sun.

Ink, Incense, Amber, Labdanum, Patchouli, Chinese, Cedarwood, New Aldehydes, Cumin, Angelica Root, Vetiver, Cade Oil, Absolute Maté, Magnolia, Absolute Folia.

Its very fresh, but not as citrus fragrance, opens up wit tea-mandarin mix that is airy , light, and reminds me of morning sunshine , its floral in a way, and then i thought of iso E super, it has that type of structure, airy, light, woody, fresh, i like that citrus hint that reminds me of geranium, then a little bit of nutmeg,gives touch of sweetness, and something reminds you of incense note but modernised version,

What struck me the most is that it reminds me of a cathedral built of spider net ,its hardly noticeable yet the complexity is there,

This is one delicate beauty, for hot summer days:-)

All about the tea, ink, and magnolia (a note I normally disdain for its aquatic tinge, but here incense balances fire and water). Throughout drydown, spices, labdanum, and vetiver emerge as finely sculpted supporting notes. A little like summertime rain, it's by turns cold and metallic then steamy and warming.

Worth trying in the pocket size first, as it's readily available from discounters, and this is strong, long-lasting stuff. Like most CDGs (other than the super linear incense series and similar) this is changeable, atmospheric, and of very high, complex quality. People who would never care for perfume regularly compliment this scent. The abstract ink note really seems to trigger associations with newspapers and printers--words and colors--where most perfumes would more readily recall flavor or just the usual combinations of other scent memories.

I especially like the tea-ink industrious writer's desk energy of CDG2 after it's been over-sprayed on fabric and left to fade for a few days. Sometimes if the magnolia or aldehydes come out too much (mostly on skin I've found) this one can be a little too much. A light touch or the Aromatics Elixir walkthrough method helps bring out CDG2's more delicate qualities and softens the harsher avant-garde edges.
anomie et ivoire

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Cromagnon - Orgasm

Orgasm is the only studio album by the experimental band Cromagnon.

Orgasm was recorded at A-1 Sound Studio in the Upper West Side of New York City in 1969. Phil Spector's Wall of Sound technique, which producer Brian Elliot was a fan of, heavily influenced the album's sound. During Orgasm's recording, band members would bring in random people off the street and ask them to contribute to the album.

On the album's conception, band member Sal Salgado recalled:

The original concept of the album was to progress from different decades of music. Like, in ‘59 Elvis was shaking his pelvis and driving people — well, women — crazy. And adults as well, making them very upset. And then ten years later Hendrix was pouring lighter fluid on his guitar and getting a lot of great distortion out of his Marshall amps. And The Who was breaking up equipment. And then we were trying to carry it on to the next decade. We were going to say, maybe in 1979 there’ll be a group of people on stage that’ll be blowing through reeds of grass while someone is reciting some poetry, and another person is squirting water at a microphone on stage with a hose…

Cromagnon was a project formed in the late ’60s for the influential ESP-Disk label, which put out some of the wildest, most freeform music of the era, including albums by the Fugs, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and even the godfather of the psychedelic era, Timothy Leary. The official story behind the band is that it was started by a pair of successful pop songwriters named Brian Elliot and Austin Grasmere who wanted to do an experimental album. When they approached ESP-Disk founder Bernard Stollman about the project, he allegedly asked what their theme would be, and when they replied, “Everything is one,” he gave them the go-ahead.

At this point, the story gets a little murky. Supposedly, Elliot and Grasmere decamped to some kind of hippie commune to record with a group of musicians known only as the “Connecticut Tribe” that may or may not have included future members of The Residents and Negativland. Whoever they were, the Tribe helped Elliot and Grasmere record a single album under the Cromagnon name. Originally released in 1969 as Orgasm and later reissued as Cave Rock, it’s an absolute mind-fuck of a record, a dadaist/tribal freakout combining primitive percussion and musique concrète; creepy non-verbal groans, grunts, chants and shrieks; bagpipes; Hendrix-esque blasts of psych-rock guitar; Brian Wilson harmonies; sampled radio broadcasts; and a whole host of other sounds whose origins are impossible to discern. At the time of its release, it must’ve been enough to send even most the tripped-out “Revolution No. 9″ enthusiasts scurrying back to their parents’ Johnny Mathis records.
Andy & Jake

Despite its tragically shoddy sleeve and label art, Cro-Magnon's Orgasm is, in my opinion, quite simply the most important experimental (for want of a better term) record of all time.

In its day, it was mostly dismissed as an oddball exercise in psychedelia - yet, in truth, it's about as far removed from disposable crap like 13th Floor Elevators, Love, and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as it's possible to go. There are eight eclectic tracks that each boast more original new ideas than nearly all other bands achieve in a lifetime - and despite this wide diversity, they all work perfectly well as a whole, in their chosen sequence, and combine to provide an adventure that's unpredictable, exhilarating, startling, and at times unnervingly absurd.

Revisiting Orgasm in 2009, one is immediately struck by how many subsequent bands and genres echoed these ideas: Nurse With Wound, Faust, The Residents (who some allege were involved with the Cro-Magnon project, though it seems that Cro-Magnon's Austin Grasmere and Brian Elliot were in fact bubblegum pop songwriters), neofolk, drone, avant-garde, noise, guitar improv freakery, and more. And of course, my own music too: this album was unquestionably a huge inspiration, not only musically, but also in the sense of artistically opening a mind to a truly radical imperative.

It's difficult even to appreciate what Cro-Magnon were thinking at the time, or how they were inspired to make these mysterious sounds in the first place. Robert Ashley, perhaps? It's like it almost dropped out of the sky from another galaxy. And I can think of no greater compliment than that with regard to its uncompromising originality.
William Bennett

Originally released in 1969 (as Orgasm), Cromagnon’s first and only full-length is intriguing and utterly confounding, a jumble of rackety percussion, chants, shouts, moans, giggles, whispers, drones, found sounds, bizarre rituals, ethno-freak-outs and one actual song, “Caledonia,” a sort of metal bagpipe reel. Its two main songwriters, Austin Grasmere and Brian Eliot, were, by all accounts, bumping hard against the limits of writing bubblegum pop for money. They heard somehow about the eccentric ESP-Disk label and dropped in to its studios for one day to record this odd, possibly brilliant, but only marginally listenable CD. The album went on through the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s to become a kind of lost Atlantis type of recording, heard about more often than heard, an entry on Stephen Stapleton’s famous list. It was released on CD for the first time in 1993, again in 2000, once more in 2005 and this time, possibly prodded by Ghost’s cover of “Caledonia” two years ago, in 2009. It is always released by the original label, ESP-Disk, and the critical reaction always seems to be the same: How could anything this weird, this prefigurative of industrial out-rock and experimental psyche have possibly been produced in 1969? 

Certainly, you can listen a long time without hearing much overt reference to the 1960s. There’s a jangly, campfire-ish guitar at the foundation of “Crow of the Black Tree,” though it’s mostly obscured by wild group shrieks and moans, women and men together, though not exactly in unison. Scrubbed and well-behaved 1960s radio-jingle harmonies kick off “Fantasy,” but it doesn’t take long for the cut to dissolve into maniacal cackles and an altered voice careening through Doppler-altered non-linear observations (“I’m bleeding.” “Having died there…”). The tone is both stone-aged and futuristic, sirens cut through with stray radio broadcasts, tribal celebrations framed by electronic squiggles and blasts. “Caledonia,” by a huge margin the most accessible cut on the disc, thunders with drums, whines with bagpipes. Other bands of the era – Pentangle, Fairport Convention, etc. – were working with updated takes on Celtic folk, of course, but none of them were adding this kind of harsh, over-amplified vocals.

In fact, most of the bands that Cromagnon recalls – Faust, Throbbing Gristle, Nurse with Wound, etc. – didn’t exist in 1969. The band’s total disregard for melody, structure, narrative or time signature is shockingly modern not just for 1969, but even now. “Ritual Feast of the Libido” tests the listener with an extended barrage of really unpleasant, unmusical sounds – a whip-beat, and a man howling in either pain or pleasure. “Organic Sundown,” where members of the “Tribe” credited on the album trade whispers, yelps, hisses and intonations of the word “Sleep,” rides a ramshackle percussive rhythm that could be NNCK or Sun City Girls. 

It is not easy to listen to Cave Rock all the way through, and even if you find it interesting, you may not be able to muster any real affection for these difficult tracks. There’s a palpable fog of self-indulgence hanging over the whole enterprise, a sense of weirdness for weirdness’ sake and lack of discipline or structure. Still, there’s no question that Cromagnon achieved something remarkable in its strange concoction of noise, spoken word, folk, electronics and field recordings. It’s worth remembering that the top four songs of 1969 were the Beatles’ “Get Back,” the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman,” Zager and Evans’ “In the Year 2525,” and the Archies’ “Sugar Sugar.” Nobody was doing anything remotely like this, and certainly not in Connecticut.
Jennifer Kelly

Friday, 17 January 2014

Thomson & Craighead - Maps DNA and Spam @ DCA 17.01.14 - pictures

To the DCA this evening for the opening of Maps DNA and Spam, a show by Thomson & Craighead that "looks at how communications networks like the worldwide web are changing the way we relate to the world around us." I took a few photos and here they are:

The name of the show is Maps DNA and Spam

Belief, 2012

A Short Film About War, 2012

Corruption, 2013

Belief, 2012

Belief, 2012

The First Person, 2013

Corruption, 2013

A Short Film About War, 2012

Dundee Wall, 2014

The Time Machine in Alphabetical Order, 2010

Thursday, 16 January 2014


Bought a few items: 

Curzio Malaparte - The Skin (NYRB Classics), £4.22 

Bruce Hainley - Under the Sign of [Sic]: Sturtevant's Volte-Face (Semiotext(e) / Active Agents), £23.43 (pre-order)

Victrola - Maritime Tatami 12" (Dark Entries), $12.00

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Klaus Nomi - Klaus Nomi

Klaus Nomi is the debut album by German countertenor Klaus Nomi.

Klaus Sperber (January 24, 1944 – August 6, 1983), better known as Klaus Nomi, was a German countertenor noted for his wide vocal range and an unusual, otherworldly stage persona.

Nomi was known for his bizarrely visionary theatrical live performances, heavy make-up, unusual costumes, and a highly stylized signature hairdo which flaunted a receding hairline. His songs were equally unusual, ranging from synthesizer-laden interpretations of classical music opera to covers of 1960s pop standards like Chubby Checker's "The Twist" and Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes". He is remembered in the US as one of David Bowie's backup singers for a 1979 performance on Saturday Night Live.

Nomi died in 1983 at the age of 39 as a result of complications from AIDS.

It only takes a quick look at the cover to get a reasonably decent idea that this isn't your typical pop album: Decked out in a grossly oversized suit and heavy theatrical makeup, Klaus Nomi is not your typical pop singer, either. Both the cover and the music within lean heavily to the dramatic -- Nomi's delivery is all in a very operatic falsetto, though most of the music itself is more of the early-'80s European dance school (indeed, one of his collaborators here was Man Parrish, probably best-known for his later work with Man 2 Man). Only one of the tracks here was self-penned; rather, Nomi gets down to work here as an interpreter, turning in suitably skewed versions of "Lightning Strikes" and Chubby Checker's "The Twist." The real highlights here are his take on Kristian Hoffman's song "Total Eclipse," and a rather straight (ahem) reading of the aria from Saint-Saens' classical work Samson and Delilah. It's pretty hard to imagine your typical classical music buff embracing this song, let alone the entire album, but fans of off-kilter pop music will certainly find a lot to love about this album.
Sean Carruthers

I discovered Klaus Nomi fairly recently. It was only a month or so ago that, after hearing a couple of tracks on, I discovered to try searching him on YouTube to see what came up. I found the video for "Lightning Strikes", and the rest, as they say, is history.

Almost all of the songs on the album, with the exception of the ghostly "Wasting My Time" seem to be covers. But, after comparing the original version of "Lightning Strikes" to Nomi's cover, it becomes clear that he makes the songs his own. Another example his his version of "The Cold Song", which is chilling and beautiful at the same time.

Say what you like about Klaus Nomi - there's no one else quite like him. After listening to this album on repeat I still can't think of anyone else to compare him to. And I never thought that an album that could be labelled "electro-synthpop-opera" would appeal to me.


I saw the 2004 documentary about Klaus Nomi, and I was a bit disappointed they didn't spend more time discussing and analyzing his music. Granted, I'm probably one of the few viewers who had that concern, but I guess that's just who I am! Anyway, Nomi's image and personality were so interesting that there was no time left to look at the songs. However, hearing snippets from his music on the documentary, I immediately became interested in it and quickly got a hold of his two albums.

This guy is an iconic figure of the New York underground, and that's more reasons than one. Right off the bat, you've probably already noticed how he used to dress. You at least *wondered* about him, right! Also, he died just as his popularity was taking off, which immediately thrust him into legendary status (even though he never attained the popularity of a Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain). Another unusual aspect of Klaus Nomi was the way he sang. He had childhood ambitions of being an opera star, and he spent most of his adult life developing a beautiful countertenor voice. However, he wasn't getting too far in the legitimate opera... so he decided to become a new wave star who happens to sing like an opera star! You might already be thinking that there was another German underground figure who combined punk with opera, Nina Hagen. (I have no idea who came first). But the two sound starkly different. Hagen is snarly and vicious. Nomi is quirky, gentle and otherworldly.

To finally answer the most important question of them all: I think this album is fantastic! I was familiar with all these songs from watching the documentary, but delving deeply into the music itself provided a number of rich and rewarding experiences that I would never have picked up from the doc. “Lightnin' Strikes” is a brilliant cover of Lou Christie's hit from 1966... and it greatly improves the original. The instrumentation is very goofy (making it a *fun* experience beyond everything else), but Nomi's operatic voice lends it a vastly interesting tone. When he hits the chorus, it sounds like he's singing about the apocalypse, which is something that caught me off guard the first time I heard it. He does the same sort of thing with the chorus in “Total Eclipse.” Both of these songs are not only incredibly fun, but they're catchy as hell.

His version of Chubby Checker's “The Twist” is about as weird as it gets. Instead of speeding up the tempo (like most new wave bands would), they slow it down and gives me visions of a weird alien dance party. Nomi's countertenor voice makes that already creepy idea even creepier. You're going to have to hear it to believe it. “Nomi Song” was written seemingly as his signature song... it starts out like an operatic aria and then a catchy, jerky new wave song comes in. That one's also a lot of fun! A substantial number of listeners are insistent that Nomi's straight operatic exercises are the undisputed highlights of his albums. While I beg to differ, I can see where they're coming from. “The Cold Song” is a cover of 17th Century composer Henry Purcell, and it's one of the most mesmerizing moments of the whole album. It's gorgeous, actually.
Don Ignacio